Formula 1

PREVIEW: 2020 Formula 1 Hungarian Grand Prix – Hungaroring

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Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd.

Round three of the 2020 FIA Formula 1 World Championship will take place this weekend at the Hungaroring, home of the Hungarian Grand Prix. This will be the third race in three weeks as the Formula 1 season had a delayed start due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Hungarian Grand Prix (‘Magyar Nagydíj in the local dialect) joined the Formula 1 calendar in 1986 as the first race to be held behind the then Iron Curtain in Eastern Europe. Nelson Piquet won the inaugural race.

The thirty-fifth edition of this Grand Prix will take place at the seldom-used twisty and dusty circuit outside the town of Mogyoród, near Budapest. The first few races at the Hungaroring saw many gripping battles between the likes of Ayrton Senna, Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet.

Mansell’s win in 1989 from twelfth on the grid (on a circuit that offers few overtaking opportunities) ranks among the more dramatic races here. The circuit has witnessed the maiden Grand Prix wins of the future world champions’ Damon Hill (1993), Fernando Alonso (2003) and Jenson Button (2006).

What happened at the 2020 Styrian Grand Prix?

Lewis Hamilton scored a dominant victory at the Styrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria. The Briton clinched his first win of the season with a composed drive after a scratchy opening race at the same venue.

Hamilton was on pole position with Max Verstappen joining him on the front row. Carlos Sainz and Valtteri Bottas were on the second row. Esteban Ocon and Alexander Albon were on the third row.

Pierre Gasly, Daniel Ricciardo, Lando Norris, and Sebastian Vettel started at the front of the grid. All the drivers had a free choice of tyres as the qualifying was in full wet conditions.

Hamilton made a perfect start to lead Verstappen into Turn 1. The Briton led from lights to flag as he was never challenged. The two Ferrari drivers collided at the start with Charles Leclerc running into the back of Vettel and ended the race for both drivers.

Bottas managed to overtake Verstappen to seal a Mercedes 1-2. The Dutchman joined the Mercedes drivers on the podium with team-mate Albon in fourth position.

Norris with a stellar final lap finished in fifth position. Sergio Pérez and Lance Stroll essayed a double point finish for Racing Point F1 team as they finished in sixth and seventh positions respectively. Ricciardo, Sainz and Daniil Kvyat completed the top 10 positions. Sainz took the extra point for the fastest lap in the race.

What happened at the 2019 Hungarian Grand Prix?

Hamilton clinched an impressive win at the 2019 Hungarian Grand Prix to record his seventh win at this race.

Verstappen started from pole position. Bottas joined him on the first row. Hamilton and Leclerc were on the second row. Verstappen made a clean getaway and led into turn 1. Hamilton passed his team-mate Bottas and from that point the ding-dong battle between Verstappen and Hamilton started.

Verstappen undercut Hamilton and also resisted his attacks after the first pitstop. But Mercedes rolled the dice and pitted Hamilton for a second time.

Hamilton rejoined twenty-seconds behind Verstappen and proceeded to hunt him down and took the lead with three laps to go. Verstappen pitted again to put on fresh tyres and clinch second position and the extra point for fastest lap.

Vettel completed the podium positions with Leclerc behind him. Sainz was “best of the rest” in fifth position ahead of Gasly, Kimi Räikkönen, Bottas, Norris and Albon in the top 10 positions.

The Circuit

The 4.381 kilometer Hungaroring circuit with 14 corners (slow and medium-speed corners) and one long straight is one of the slowest tracks on the Formula 1 calendar, with an average speed of only 190 km/h.

The twisting, bumpy and narrow circuit is front-limited with the predominantly long and slow speed corners demanding a high downforce setup. The laps are done at full throttle 56% of the time and the fuel consumption is high. The slow nature of the corners in the extremely high heat and dry conditions leads to high brake-wear.

As the track is rarely used, it offers very low grip during the practice sessions. The track conditions evolve and change significantly by race day as the rubber is laid down.

Credit: Pirelli Media

Sectors, Corners, and DRS Zones

Sector 1 (Turn 1 to Turn 3) has one of the longest runs to Turn 1 at 610 meters, followed by a tight hairpin and the downhill run to Turn 2. The best overtaking spot on the track is after Turn 1. The sharp left-hander at Turn 2 is followed by a kink leading to Turn 3, which is followed by a short straight.

Sector 2 (Turn 4 to Turn 11) starts with an uphill climb to Turn 4, followed by a sharp right-hand corner at Turn 5. This leads into the bumpiest part of the circuit with a lot of twisty corners and chicanes from Turn 6 to Turn 10. The last corner at Turn 11 is a fairly fast right-hander leading to a short straight.

Sector 3 (Turn 12 to Turn 14) starts with the short straight leading to a sharp right-hander at Turn 12 followed by a hairpin at Turn 13. The final corner at Turn 14 is a fast right-hander leading into the start-finish straight.

There are two DRS zones this year with a single detection point. The DRS detection point will be before Turn 14. The first DRS activation point will be after Turn 14, before the start/finish line. The second DRS activation point will be after Turn 1.

This track was known for its rare overtaking opportunities in the early years and the track layout was changed in 2003 to improve this. The pole sitter has won only four out of the last twelve races surprisingly, but all too frequently the circuit has produced processional races.

Tyre Strategy

The white-striped hard tyres (C2), the yellow-striped medium tyres (C3) and the red-striped soft tyres (C4) nominated for this race is from the middle range of Pirelli tyres. This was the same compounds of tyres nominated for the first two races.

The drivers will all have the same allocations of two sets of the hard compound tyres, three sets of the medium compound tyres, and eight sets of the soft compound tyres of the thirteen sets allocated to them.

The succession of slow corners and the extreme heat stresses the tyres in this race. Track position is key on this hard to overtake track. The strategy of all the teams will be tailored to ensure this.

The Hamilton and Mercedes master-stroke that saw the winner pit for a second-time for the medium compound tyres which helped him hunt down Verstappen who ran out of tyres in the end will be factored into the strategies this year.

Credit: Pirelli Media

What should we look out for this year?

Mercedes has won the first two races of the abbreviated 2020 season with Bottas and Hamilton winning a race each. Verstappen and Red Bull Racing will be looking to fight back at the Hungarian Grand Prix where the circuit suits their car.

McLaren has had a stellar start to the season and are in second position in the constructors’ championship. The Woking-based team had a double-points finish at the Hungaroring last year and will look to repeat the performance.

The Racing Point team is in fourth position with a double-points finish in the last race, but the shadow of the Renault protest looms over them. Ferrari languishes in fifth position and will hope that the slower track at this race will suit their SF1000 challenger.

Bottas (43 points) is now leading team-mate Hamilton (37 pts) by six points in the drivers’ championship. Norris (26 points) is in an unlikely third position. Leclerc (18 points) and Perez (16 points) round off the top 5 positions in the drivers’ championship.

Mercedes (80 points) lead the constructors’ championship by 41 points over McLaren (39 points). Red Bull Racing (27 points) is in third position. Racing Point (22 points) and Ferrari (19 points) complete the top 5 positions in the constructors’ championship.

What’s the schedule?

Friday 17 July

09:00 GMT / 11:00 Local Time – Free Practice One
13:00 GMT / 15:00 Local Time – Free Practice Two

Saturday 18 July

10:00 GMT / 12:00 Local Time – Free Practice Three
13:00 GMT / 15:00 Local Time – Qualifying

Sunday 19 July

13:10 GMT / 15:10 Local Time – Race

How can I keep up with the action?

Follow all the action at the Checkered Flag with our extensive coverage, quotes and analysis of every session of the Hungarian Grand Prix.

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